Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - John 6:40

For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

The sixth chapter of John is one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament. It starts with Christ feeding the five thousand and includes one of the seven "I am" statements. Christ declares, "I am the bread of life," who comes to feed the multitude (John 6:35). The chapter concludes with many disciples deserting him. The declarations of Christ and his teaching proved too difficult for many, just as it does today.

John 6:40 is one of the most important passages in the New Testament. The verse has proven to be an essential evangelistic message preached throughout the world. It's a simple statement about the will of the Father, our salvation, and our eternal purpose in Christ....

We Are Not the Center of the Universe

We Are Not The Center of the Universe

Review of Russ Roberts' How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life – An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness (Portfolio, October 2014) Hardcover, 272 pages, $27.95

Adam Smith is conventionally thought of in a very specific manner: He is the "father of economics," the man who gave birth to the very idea that self-interest is a good thing and that seeking profits was among the most socially productive endeavors a man could undertake. But what many people are unaware of is that Adam Smith was also a moral philosopher and social psychologist (and one of the greats). In fact, it was his Theory of Moral Sentiments that first brought Adam Smith to fame, not his...

Inside the Conservative Mind


An Interview with Bradley Birzer

Bradley J. Birzer says that being a conservative "has little to do with politics, but instead has much to do with identifying and preserving excellence in art, culture, literature and scholarship. It means to identify and conserve the particular talents, dignity and freedom of each individual and, where possible, to connect all persons across time from the beginning of things to the end." If that sounds more than a little Kirkean, it is no accident. Birzer, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Indiana University, is the co-founder of The Imaginative Conservative and holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College in Michigan. He is at work on a new book titled ...

Editor's Note

To kick off this special Summer/ Fall double issue of Religion & Liberty, we talk with scholar Bradley J. Birzer whose new biography of Russell Kirk examines the intellectual development of one of the most important men of letters in the twentieth century. We discuss the roots of Kirk's thought and how it developed over time, in a characteristically singular fashion. Kirk, the author of The Conservative Mind, was not easily pigeonholed into ideological categories – fitting for a man once described as "the most individual anti-individualist of his day."

We review two new books. Economist David Hebert tells us that Russ Robert's How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life – An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness is a helpful reminder about the "limits of pure economics." Even though the books and film...

Why is 'For The Life of the World' such a valuable and popular film for expanding our audience at Acton?

"For the Life of the World: Letter to the Exiles," a film series produced by the Acton Institute, is receiving a lot of attention for its crisp and entertaining visuals as well as rich content. Andy Crouch, the executive editor of Christianity Today said, "'For the Life of the World' is the best treatment of faith & culture ever put on a screen. Just outstanding." I'm delighted that we succeeded in creating something so strong theologically as well as so thoroughly entertaining.

Our most important mission at Acton is to introduce a free and virtuous society to new audiences worldwide. We have done that with a number of recent projects including PovertyCure and Poverty Inc. As an organization, we have never been better equipped to reach people.

"For the Life of the World," a seven-part series,...

Our Prodigal Generation

As a pastor, parents often share with me the grief they have when a child of theirs leaves the faith. I won't bore you with statistics, but suffice it to say that many young adults today seem to leave their faith behind, shedding it as if it were one more remnant of childhood to be boxed up and stored in Mom and Dad's attic.

I know a woman who understands this heartache. While she was a woman of great faith, her husband was not. He was violent and abusive. The woman tried to raise her three children well, but in such an atmosphere, it was difficult. And yet, two of her three children became exemplary Christians. Her other child, a son, was a brilliant young man who thought faith had no place in a reasonably lived life. All the woman could do was pray.

And pray she did, for years. She watched her son make terrible decisions: alcohol, sexual licentiousness,...

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams

How difficult the task to quench the fire and the pride of private ambition, and to sacrifice ourselves and all our hopes and expectations to the public weal! How few have souls capable of so noble an undertaking.

In the precarious time of the American Revolution, members of the Continental Congress left their wives and children in order to establish a new American country. During this time John and Abigail Adams begin writing letters to each other that by the end of their lives totaled more than 1,100. Abigail served as a confidante and advisor to the first vice president and second president of the United States.

Abigail was born in colonial Massachusetts in 1744 to a Congregationalist...

An Epic of Ideas

The Life of an Idea by Edmund Fawcett

Review of Liberalism: The Life of an Idea by Edmund Fawcett (Princeton University Press, 2014) 468 pages; $35.00.

Russell Kirk published The Conservative Mind in 1953, which provided the history of modern conservative thought from Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke to George Santayana. Later updated to include T. S. Eliot, Kirk's study was a long overdue examination of conservatism's history; first principles; prominent and less-so great thinkers; theoretical, theosophical and philosophical underpinnings; and practice. When it was published, The...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Isaiah 40:26

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

There is comfort in knowing that God counts the stars and calls them each by name. Our little corner of the observable universe only has about 400 billion stars while some galaxies easily have over 1 trillion. If God can number the hairs on each of our heads, He has little trouble in remembering the constellations.

Stars instinctively make us to look up towards the sky and to creation. While the smart phone craze is creating a dynamic in which more and more people are looking down, ironically, technology at the same time allows us to see deeper and deeper into space. Thanks to tools like the Hubble Telescope, astronomers are able to estimate...

Reading History Religiously

Reading History Religiously

Review of Missionaries of Republicanism: A Religious History of the Mexican-American War by John C. Piheiro. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) 256 pages; $45.00.

Among the many regrettable trends in the academy today is that of reading history through decidedly secularist lens. By that I don't necessarily mean looking at the past with a hostile view of religion (save of the fluffy sort), though that can be part of the...

It Wasn't Free Markets That Did It

Infiltrated by Jay Richards

Review of Infiltrated by Jay W. Richards (McGraw Hill Education, 2013) 299 pages; $25.00.

Six years have passed since the meltdown of markets in 2008. Like many things "we all know," the putative reasons for this meltdown have now passed into the national consciousness: greedy bankers, deregulation, and an unregulated market for derivatives, credit default swaps, and other complex financial instruments. Jay Richards' Infiltrated, released in the summer of 2013, is a very handy volume to give to people who are open to hearing an alternative explanation...

State Religion and the American Remnant

State Religion

Secularization and moral relativism are rapidly transforming a nation that once embodied the best ideals of Western freedom based on a Biblical worldview. And while secularization of society has reached new heights in America, we will always have religion and faith as strong components. An important question is how healthy of a role will faith play in the public square and who is given a seat at the table?

At the 2014 Evangelical Leadership summit sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, Russell Moore declared: "If we do not have religious liberty, it does not mean we have a purely secular state, but it means we have a more religious state." Moore, who was interviewed in the Fall 2013 issue...

Illuminating the Word

Makoto Fujimura

An Interview with Makoto Fujimura

Makoto Fujimura is an artist, writer, and speaker who is recognized worldwide as somebody who promotes a Christian worldview. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003-2009, Fujimura served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts.

Fujimura's work is exhibited at galleries around the world, including Dillon Gallery in New York, Sato Museum in Tokyo, The Contemporary Museum of Tokyo, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts Museum. He is one of the first artists to paint live on stage at New York City's legendary Carnegie Hall as part of an...

Editor's Notes

In a 2013 commencement address at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, Makoto Fujimura told the graduating class, "We are to rise above the darkened realities, the confounding problems of our time." A tall order for any age, but one God has decisively overcome in Jesus Christ. Fujimura uses his talent to connect beauty with the truth of the Gospel in a culture that has largely forgotten its religious tradition and history. He makes those things fresh and visible again. With works like "Walking on Water," and the "Four Holy Gospels," Fujimura is illuminating God's Word to a culture that is mostly inward looking and mired in the self. His art is world renowned, and he provides stunning imagination and beauty for the text that restores the world.

For this issue, I contribute a column on the dangers of state religion. Secularism, now thriving as the...

Lightening Our Burdens

Recently, a 14-year-old in Michigan carried his younger brother on his back for 40 miles. The younger brother (Braden) is afflicted with cerebral palsy, and his big brother, Hunter, wanted to bring awareness to the disease while trying to raise money for medical research. Over the course of two days, the brothers completed their journey, which they called the "Cerebral Palsy Swagger."

A cynic might look at this and say, "So what? What did the kid prove? His little brother still has cerebral palsy, and he didn't even raise that much money."

I am not a cynic. (I admit to occasionally being cynical, but I am not a cynic.) These brothers accomplished quite a bit. The younger brother was not simply "along for the ride," but an active participant. There is something about him that moved his older brother to do this in the first place, but...